Once Upon A Time: “Mother” (S4Ep21)

Oh, where do I even start with this episode? It had a lot of Regina, both in Storybrooke and in flashbacks. But in a testament to how terribly written this episode was, not even Lana Parrilla could save it. And to think I was excited when I saw Jane Espenson wrote the episode.

We start in the Enchanted Forest with Regina (Lana Parrilla) and her father. They come upon a group of citizens having a wedding on royal land without Regina’s permission. It is the anniversary of Daniel’s death, so Regina gets rather pissed, more so when her dad questions her in front of her citizens and she takes a dude’s heart and crushes it.

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This episode had a lot of examples of good acting but terrible dialogue. We aren’t actually told when this is, but Regina’s tone and facial expression tell us this is somewhere in between Baby Braids Regina and “I will destroy your happiness” Evil Queen Regina. She storms away, leaving her father, and goes to Daniel’s grave. There is a rose there and Cora (Barbara Hershey) appears behind her. I feel the same way about Cora’s return as I did about Robin’s. She was fairly written off and there is no reason to bring her back. Regina already learned this lesson in season three and wasn’t Cora trapped in Wonderland? She said she got help from The Rabbit, but why did she then go back to get saved by Hook later on?

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Back in the present in New York, Regina is having a beer with Robin (Sean McGuire) at quiet possibly the same bar Emma and Neal did that one time. They are trying to figure out what to do about Marian being Zelena (Rebecca Mader). Robin says they can still be together but Regina says the whole thing is her fault and there will always be that child hanging around. Regina quietly says something about not being able to give Robin a child in here.

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Back at Neal/Robin’s apartment, Adult Lily (Agnes Bruckner) is getting information from Emma. Also, Zelena is just hanging out, making herself tea like she isn’t a murderous psychopath. Then Regina busts in and says they are all going to Storybrooke.

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When they get back, Emma hugs Henry (Jared Gilmore), hugs Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and sidesteps Snow’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) hug attempt. Emma then introduces Lily to Maleficent (Kristen Bauer van Straten). She is about to cry and Lily really isn’t sure what to think.

Regina then takes Zelena to the cells under the hospital. She gave her that magic cancelling wrist cuff, which I’m surprised the writers even remembered. Regina says she will stay there until she has the baby and maybe then she will kill her. Zelena says she can’t because that would be killing her true love’s child’s mother.

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Meanwhile, Rumple (Robert Carlyle) is stumbling around, having a magic heart attack. His heart is turning completely black, which will turn him Full Dark One with no Rumple to balance it out. Regina had pooffed herself there. She takes the enchanted pen, the Author and tells Rumple she doesn’t give a shit about him. He then collapses.

Regina brings her and the Author to her heart vault. Does her mansion no longer exist? He tells her they have everything they need, but the ink isn’t going to work because it has to be charged with the blood of the Savior at her darkness potential. Regina thinks that over for a moment and then gets an idea of how to get some. Clearly, her plan doesn’t involve hurting Emma in any way.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Cora tells Regina she is sorry about killing Daniel. She apparently met Tinkerbell at some point and she told her about the man with the lion tattoo, aka her soul mate. Cora promises to find him for Regina. She then goes to Robin Hood’s tavern. She starts talking to Sheriff Nottingham, who is again, all creepy and gross. She tells him he can help her.

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Over at Granny’s, Maleficent is trying her best to bond with Lily. She wants to take revenge on Snow and Charming (Josh Dallas). Maleficent says they should be happy in the present instead of angry about the past. Lily doesn’t like that idea and tries to run off. Her mom tries to stop her saying, if she leaves Stroybrooke she can never return. Lily ignores her and then runs off. The dialogue is so clunky, heavy headed and awkward through this scene. Of course, Kristen Bauer van Straten was still able to act incredibly despite it. Agnes Bruckner was good too. She is very good at capturing Lily in the exact same way Nicole Munoz did. If she was Hispanic too, I might actually like Adult Lily.

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In the Enchanted Forest, Cora gave Sheriff Nottingham a lion tattoo and tries to pass him off as Regina’s soul mate. She buys it as first, but as he gets all pretentious, creepy and gross, she is able to figure out it was magic. She pretty much tortures Cora’s plan out of him. He said Cora wants him to be king so Regina will have a child, but he doesn’t know why.

Regina is able to figure it out that she will have her child and then “die of a mysterious illness” and Cora will become the Queen Regent. Regina makes a potion for herself that will stop her from having a child. Cora tells her not to, that this is stupid and a weak way to get back at her. This is when the dialogue went from just being terrible to uncomfortable. Sure, Sheriff Nottingham was rather rape-y also, but this was coming from Regina, a character we are supposed to like. Cora tells Regina hurting herself is weak and Regina says it isn’t if it causes Cora pain also, which sends a really messed up message about self-harm and suicide. Also, Regina says Cora already decided no one would ever love her so why doesn’t she make it official. Because her ability to be loved is tied to her having children, OUAT?

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Anyway back in Storybrooke, Regina finds Lily at the bus stop. Regina says a few things to piss of Lily, mostly about her darkness and how she must be mad that it really belongs to Emma. Regina then cuts her hand and is able to super charge the magic ink with her blood, which contains the Savior’s greatest potential for darkness. Regina then magics away and Lily’s eyes glow yellow.

For some god damn reason, Maleficent goes to the idiot duo to ask for help about Lily. The three of them go off to find her and run into a horribly CGI’ed Lily in dragon form.

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Over at the docks, Hook tells Emma she should forgive her parents. Emma says it would be easier for her if they had been truthful about their terribleness. They probably said other stuff, but I was too distracted by the utter lack of chemistry between these two. Also, Regina already told Emma all this.

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Maleficent and the idiot duo find Dragon Lily. Then Snow runs at her, I don’t know what she was supposed to be doing. It ended up being an excuse for her to be injured when Emma arrived. She told her she forgave her. It was actually good and reminiscent of season one Emma and Mary Margaret.

Maleficent finds Lily once she is back in human form. They clunk through some more dialogue and Lily agrees to stay for a week, which was also how long Emma said she would stay the first time.

Down in the cells, Regina and the Author go to visit Zelena. Regina had planned to have the Author write Zelena out of the story completely. Zelena says she is like their mother, who pretty much erased Zelena from her life. Regina remembers when Cora told her to stop standing in the way of her own happiness. She realizes she doesn’t need to get rid of Zelena. Robin does not define her happy ending, it is finding a place where she feels like she belongs, which was sweet and cute.

But, the Author says he doesn’t like that idea and sends himself to Rumple. Rumple magics up a book called “Heroes and Villains” and the Author writes “Once upon a time” in it.

If it was better written, I feel like this could have been a good episode. I’m not sure what to expect from the finale next week. This show is great a finales, but it is terrible at two-hour episodes. So, best guesses on how this two-hour finale will go?

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